Coronavirus pandemic has been a death knell for many professions; Mumbai’s famous Dabbawala’s tiffin service is one of them. They have been allowed to enter in local trains, but not inside offices. Many of their clients have lost jobs and rest working from home. A Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Making the Difference has tried to bring a little smile on Dabbawalas’ faces.
On Sunday, the NGO Making the Difference has distributed 2000 packets of ration kits to these Dabbawalas. The distribution programme was organised at Seven Eleven Academy. Former MLA Narendra Mehta was also participated and distributed ration kits from his hands in the premises.
About 2000 out of 5000 registered Dabbawalas participated in the programmes. Many of them reached the school premises as far as from Mulund, Dombivali and Kalyan from central lines.
“This was the 6th Edition of the distribution of the ration kits. Till date ‘Making the Difference’ has distributed about 1.5 lakhs rationing kits since March,” said Narendra Mehta, former BJP MLA.
“People have distributed the ration kits to poor. However, no one has helped or I can say, logon ka dhyan dabbawalon par nahi gaya. I am thankful to my donors without their support this could not be possible. I am Thankful to Mr Mehta who provided such a huge premise. of course without media, such things won’t happen, I’m very much thankful to them also” said Deepak Vishwakarma of Making the Difference.
What they say
Ramdas Karvande, President of Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association, said over the phone to mibhatimes.com “We show our gratitude to the NGO for its help. From the rations we have received we can sustain for a fortnight. We have demanded Rs 2,000 compensation from the MVA government till the full-fledged services not starting.”
After working with the network for 12 years, Vinod Shette says he returned to his native village due to the pandemic. This rendered him jobless and led to a “great financial crisis.”
“For the first time in 12 years since I joined, our life came to a standstill. We found ourselves helpless, and most of us retreated to our villages to eke out a living. This help meant a lot for us,” said Shette, a 30-year-old Dabbawala.
Who are these dabbawalas?
The business of supplying lunchboxes from homes to offices and back started in 1890 by Mahadeo Bacche, a migrant labourer from Pune district’s Maval taluka. He came upon an innovative idea while working as a loader at the Bombay port.
A co-operative start-up which in 2017 was analysed by Oxford University students for time management is today on the brink of collapse due to Covid imposed lockdown. Significantly, out of 5000 dabbawalas, only 450 members are operating tiffin service that too with few clients.